Having Healthy Boundaries Between You and Your Teenage Son


Parenting brings with it adventure after adventure. It seems like there is always some new challenge for parents, particularly as you enter into the teen years. These years encompass significant emotional and mental growth, along with identity development. Pushing boundaries and seeking independence is a natural part of adolescence. For parents, this can prove frustrating, but this behavior does serve the function of helping your teen son develop his sense of self, values, and belief system.

Setting healthy boundaries is an essential part of ensuring your teen stays on the right path while developing a strong sense of self.

The importance of setting boundaries

When children are little, we use boundaries to keep them safe. As they grow up and into teenagers, it is natural for the boundaries to shift. Boundaries must be adjusted in a healthy way so that your teenager will understand the kind of behavior that is acceptable and also feels safe in the knowledge that you care.

Emotional boundaries may look somewhat different than when you taught him not to touch the stove as a toddler or not to run into the street when he was playing in the front yard at 8. Emotional boundaries are, in many ways, more critical for a young person to learn.

These boundaries are limits that we establish to protect ourselves and those around us from manipulated, hurt, or used. Boundaries are expressions of self-worth that can help others to better understand who we are.

Boundaries can create the emotional space that we need between ourselves and others. They are an essential part of healthy relationships, including the relationships that we have with our teenagers.

Some healthy boundaries between you and your teenage son could look like the following:

  • Having self-respect and sharing personal beliefs in a respectful way.
  • Clear communication about needs and wants, even if they will be rejected.
  • Recognizing when your boundaries feel like they are being compromised.
  • Having an understanding that needs cannot be anticipated, communication is essential.

Establishing boundaries require taking positive steps to improve your relationship with your teen son. Understanding boundaries is essential during adolescence, as these years are a crucial part of forming personal identity. Setting boundaries can also help teens feel more confident in who they are and who they are becoming.

Teaching your teen why boundaries are important

Teens seem to be particularly adept at stubbornly digging in their heels when they get orders from their parents. One approach is to let him know just why something is important. Boundaries will work better if you and your teen son make them together. When he understands the reasons behind the boundaries and recognizes that you’ve taken his opinion into account, he may be more willing to cooperate with you.

Learning the importance of boundaries, whether emotional or physical, is an essential part of developing healthy, respectful, and supportive friendships and relationships. Establishing boundaries is not always easy. It can be uncomfortable and can push a teen right out of their comfort zone. Yet, this can be one of the most important skills that your teen needs to learn. Learning how to establish boundaries with others can help to keep him safe and protect his mental health.

Steps to take when setting healthy boundaries

You know the way you know how important it is to set those healthy boundaries. But how do you approach it?

There are several steps that you can take to establish and set those boundaries, including:

  • Ensure your emotions are calmed. It’s rarely recommended that you make decisions when emotions are running high. If you need to take five before responding to your teenager, then do it. Approaching your boundaries with him should always be done when you are cool and collected.
  • Know what your boundaries look like and know how to ask for them. Don’t wait until you’re in a disagreement with your teen son and then communicate boundaries. Establish them when you and your teenage son are in a calm mindset. Be sure to ask him what his boundaries look like.
  • Be empathetic to what your teen experiences. Remember your teen years and the challenges that you experienced. Teens today face more stress than adults do. When you struggle to understand why your teen son seems to be overreacting to something relatively trivial, keep in mind how it felt when you were a teen.
  • Stay consistent and firm. It’s normal for a troubled teen boy to push boundaries. You will need to remain consistent as he pushes the boundaries. You must establish boundaries in your own life.
  • Get respect by giving respect. Some of the behaviors that your teen is modeling may seem poor, silly, or even dramatic. Remember that your son is doing his very best to navigate the constant changes in his life. Respect how he reacts to things like relationships, friends, and even his personal style. Don’t belittle or dismiss the importance of these things to him. If your teen feels respected, he is likely to model this same respect back to you.
  • You’re still the parent. Don’t forget it. Your teen may be branching out for more independence, but he still needs you in his life. He still needs to know that he is loved and supported without condition.
  • Maintain your teenage son’s privacy. All teenagers crave space and privacy. Set the boundary to give him space and privacy that he needs. Going through his belongings isn’t advisable unless there’s a concern about his safety. Having his own identity and you recognizing his boundaries are important.

It can be frustrating to work on establishing healthy boundaries. Remember that your teen may be struggling just as much as you are with the changes to your relationship.

If you are struggling with establishing healthy boundaries with your teenage son, it may be time to get professional help. At Liahona Treatment Center, we offer the expertise needed to connect you with the right resources to meet your family’s needs. A residential treatment center staffed by mental healthcare professionals can be just the type of secure and comfortable space your teen needs to be in.

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